Bronx Blooming: The New-Look New York Yankees

Steve ResnickCorrespondent IFebruary 9, 2008

For the first time in what seems like 15 years, the New York Yankees have started a youth movement.

Instead of trading young talent in the offseason, which has been happening for the last couple of years, the Yankees elected to not only keep their young stars, but extend some of their contracts.

The Yankees currently have 13 pitchers and seven fielders at or under the age of 28. With the likes of Melky Cabrera, Phil Hughes, Robinson Cano, Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, and Shelley Duncan manning the roster, the Yankees look prepared for the next decade.

Of much concern this offseason, for the Yanks, has been the first-base platoon.

With Jason Giambi likely spending most of his time at DH, the defensive position is up for grabs. Duncan only played in 34 games last season, nine at first base, but had seven home runs (three in his first four games), with 17 RBIs, while slugging .554. He also showed a very strong arm in the outfield last season.

Also vying for the spot is veteran infielder Morgan Ensberg—who the Yankees signed to a minor-league deal this offseason—Wilson Betemit, Jason Lane, and youngster Juan Miranda. 

Another source of concern (and criticism) this offseason has been the Yankees' pitching staff.

Leading the starting pitchers will be veteran Andy Pettitte and third-year-pitcher Chien-Ming Wang, with the other three spots to be decided between Hughes, Kennedy, Chamberlain and Mike Mussina.

Hughes had a breakout year last season before being sidelined with a hamstring injury. Kennedy has only pitched three games in his Major League career, but went 1-0 with an ERA of 1.89 with an average of 7.11 K/9.

Chamberlain was the Yankees' young star last year. Setting up closer Mariano Rivera, Joba pitched in 19 games and ended the season 2-0, with one save and an ERA of 0.38.

Yes, you read that correctly, 0.38.

Mike Mussina had a terrible, injury-plagued season last year and should be back his normal, 15-win self by the beginning of the season.

It seems as though there are budding stars everywhere on the Yankees.

Cano is the Yankees' biggest in-house star. Just missing Rookie of the Year two years ago to Huston Street, Cano returned last season with a vengeance, ending the season with career highs in homers (19), RBIs (97), walks (39) and triples (seven.)

Shortstop Derek Jeter had a normal Derek-Jeter-type season last year, batting over .300 with 39 doubles and 73 RBIs. Then there's that other guy...third base All-Star Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez. His season was ridiculous last year, belting 54 HR, 156 RBIs and drawing 95 walks with a .314 batting average. 

The Yankees have a minor problem in the outfield this season, with four good outfielders. Bobby Abreu is the only definite, manning right field for the third-straight season.

Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon, and Hideki Matsui can each play center or left field. They could all, also, split time at the DH with Jason Giambi. Also in the mix could be veteran Jason Lane, who signed a Minor-League contract with the Yankees this offseason.

Whatever mix they use, I'm sure the Yanks will have a great outfield next season.

Also in this mix is ex-player and new Yankee manager Joe Girardi. In his last managerial term, he led the Florida Marlins to a 78-84 mark. What will he do with the star-studded Yankees?

With the farm system looking great and the big club team having an amazing mix of veteran leadership and young talent, the Yankees look set for the next decade.

Watch out American League East, the Yankees are back in town!